USA, 2014, contemporary folk / singer-songwriter

Sun Kil MoonBenji: On this most recent listen, I realized that this album is almost completely about death. The first three songs are directly about death—Kozelek even imagines death when it hasn’t happened yet, pre-grieving the passing of his mother. That track is a strange one for me, and it’s uncomfortable listening to a man vocalize what’s already played out in his mind, the details of how he will grieve when his mother dies. Every time I hear this one, though, I always think: “you’ve not considered the possibility that you could die first.” The fourth track is an enumerated recollection of sexual explorations and exploits, and the parallels of sex and death have been well documented across the years in many artistic forms. Musings on mass shootings follow as Kozelek guilt-trips us all for daring to enjoy Christmases and weddings. Death pops up again in the heartbreaking story of Jim Wise, a man on house arrest awaiting trial for the murder of his wife. Or was it murder? Kozelek calls it a mercy killing. Jim Wise shot his wife in her hospital bed and then turned the gun on himself, but it jammed, and he failed at suicide. Not every song on this album is about death, but most of them are at least somewhat associated with the theme. My wife’s criticism of this album is her distaste of the hyper-confessional lyrics, like he’s just a man sitting there strumming a guitar while he reads his diary. What she sees as a bug, I see as a feature.

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